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Asia's best bank for markets 2017: Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Awards for Excellence 2017

There is an important changing of the guard for the best bank for markets award, reflecting a rapid and big improvement. In previous years, Bank of America Merrill Lynch would have been at the periphery of a conversation on Asia-Pacific markets. Now it is front and centre. The most obvious thing BAML has going for it is diversity. Whereas the usual contenders in this category, Citi and HSBC, are heavy on forex and rates but are trying to bolster equities from a relatively low base (Morgan Stanley is the reverse), BAML is already diversified, with equities businesses accounting for 40% of global markets revenues in 2016 and FICC (fixed income, currencies and commodities) 60%. That FICC figure is roughly equally split between emerging and developed markets. Global rates, credit and foreign exchange are all well represented. 

Diversity on its own would not be enough if the bank was being dwarfed by rivals in individual categories, but that no longer seems to be the case, whether in profit (Asia-Pacific FICC pre-tax income has grown 40 times over in five years), market share or – crucially – quality of service.

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